September is National Self-Care Awareness Month. (It's an actual thing). But you might be asking yourself, "Is self-care selfish when there is so much suffering in the world?" From COVID to hurricanes to earthquakes to wildfires to Afghanistan - how can we care for ourselves when so many others need care? How do we anchor ourselves during these turbulent times?
The truth is, we need to practice self-care now more than ever - for our sake and theirs. As the world might feel like it's imploding, it is important for the betterment of humankind to find stability in ourselves, so we can stand strong for those who need us. Taking care of our mental and emotional well-being is the first step.
We can't control what's outside of us, but we can control what is within us. Our inner-anchor is where stability, calm, and peace lie. To cultivate our anchor, we first need to become aware of our thoughts and feelings, so we can let them go. Practicing mindfulness helps us develop self-awareness, so we can choose our own response.
Taking time for yourself to practice some form of mindfulness every day will help you discover your anchor and manage the flood of emotions that can eat you up inside causing everything from sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and illness. All of those things can deplete you with nothing left to give to yourself, your loved ones, or your work.
#1: Conscious Breathing
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Depending on how much time and space you are allowing for yourself, you can choose from any number of practices. Conscious breathing is always a good place to start. Simply pausing to take a few deep breaths will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your calming response. Your breath connects your mind and body, which helps to stabilize and anchor yourself.
#2: Name it to Tame it
Mindfulness is the ability to be present, aware, and accepting of what you feel and think in the moment - without judgment. The past makes you anxious, the future makes you worry. When you take time to simply pause and name what you're feeling and thinking, you can tame it. It no longer has power over you. When you name it, you detach from those unwanted feelings and thoughts and become an observer, so you can easily let them go. They no longer have their grips on you.
#3: Lighter Being
If you are giving yourself 15 minutes a day, and let's face it we all have 15 minutes to spare somewhere in our day, you can try our Lighter Being video mindfulness series. It includes 14 guided mindfulness videos featuring our Live Free Yoga Co-founder and mindfulness master, Tida Chambers.
#4: Virtual Yoga
Yoga is a mindfulness practice that integrates your mind, body, and breath to bring you to the present moment. If you're still a little nervous to go to a yoga studio, or you want the convenience of practicing from the comfort of your own home, check out our LFY Virtual Home Studio subscription. The videos aren't fancy, just our home to yours.
#5 Mindful Moments
Being mindful is also about being present in whatever you are doing. From brushing your teeth to eating to walking to having a conversation with someone. When you are focused on whatever you are doing at the moment, not only will this reduce the mental and emotional pain caused by all of the external events around us, but you will enjoy your life so much more. And as we've seen in recent months, life is precious and one that we have the power to change for the better.
ATTENTION EDUCATORS! If you are an educator, we invite you to join our new Facebook Group called, E.D.U.C.A.T.E. which stands for:
We aspire for it to be our self-care sanctuary for educators. You will receive some new mindfulness practices, inspiration, and connections with other educators throughout the world. It's our give-back to the heroes who have endured so much throughout this pandemic and continue to give their hearts, minds, and wisdom to our most precious youth.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.